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‘Give me that old time religion’: Annual revival glorifies Jesus, unites church community

By LISA WHALEY
Executive Editor
[email protected]
“Without Christ, we have nothing. Without the Lord, we have nothing,” Vincent Dial, pastor of Bethel Christian Church in Jonesborough, told a gathering of local Christians at the Jonesborough United Methodist Church Sunday night.
And the audience — Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and more — nodded their heads in agreement.
For this night, and the ones that followed, doctrinal differences were to be set aside as Jonesborough’s Community Worship week got underway.
Scheduled to run with a different preacher and host church each night, May 2 through May 6, at 7 p.m., the annual event offers the community a chance to join hands and worship with both new and old friends in ways they might not have imagined.
“It brings the town together,” said Mary Ann Clark, a member of Jonesborough United Methodist. “It shows that even though we’re different churches, we worship the same God.”
Alfred Greenlee, longtime resident and a member of Bethel Church, agreed.
“I’ve been to all of them,” he said of the community revivals. “It’s people coming together. That’s what brings love. You can’t bring love when you’re apart. You’ve got to come together.”
Sunday, the first night of the town-wide event, was all about coming together. The event, held at JUMC, featured an assortment of songs led by musician and town alderman Terry Countermine, as well as the encouragement of JUMC pastor Karen Lane, and the inspiring words of Dial.
“Our faith is what draws us together,” Lane said. “It’s important for us to come together as the body of Christ to be reminded that we all believe in Christ. It doesn’t matter what denomination we are. Together, we can do so much more.”
Dial shared not only the importance of setting aside differences and letting the Lord do his work, but also recognized the power of prayer.
“Tonight we’re talking about watching and praying,” Dial told his audience. “My grandmother used to say that.
“I grew up in the South in the ‘50s, and things were pretty bad back then because of segregation,” he continued. “And she’d say, ‘Baby, just watch and pray. God’s gonna make it OK.’ Fifty years ago, I never would have pictured myself standing in the oldest town in Tennessee preaching from the pulpit of Jonesborough Methodist Church.”
That, Dial said, is what God is doing.
The revival’s other scheduled events included May 4 at Central Christian Church, with Lane as the guest pastor; May 5 at Jackson Park Church of the Brethren with Central Christian Church pastor Bob Roberson providing the message; and May 6 at Bethel Christian Church with the Rev. Jeremy Dykes from Jackson Park Church of the Brethren providing a youth-oriented message.
“It’s such a natural coming together,” Dial said. “We have theological differences from time to time, but we don’t let that separate us from the love we have for each other, that unconditional love as brothers and sisters in Christ.”